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  • Boxer Mantis Astyliasula javana (Java Boxer Mantis)

    This tiny beautiful pointy-eyed mantis has very distinct shielded forearms. They will flash these when disturbed…hence their name “boxer.” Adults sport lush green wings and a brown underside. Nymphs hatch out barely bigger than a small fruit fly. Adults also have vibrant red markings on the upper side of the abdomen…especially in males.


    Females grow up to 3 cm long while males stop at 2.5 cm. After the 3rd molt, 8 segments can be counted on the male’s abdomen while 6 on the females. This could be quite difficult since they are still very small. Lots of feeding will inflate their abdomen and counting should be easier.


    It’s best to keep it around 25-30 C (77-86 F). A heat mat or heat lamp is may be used to maintain the desired temperature. Keep the temperature cooler at night to lengthen the lifespan of the mantis. Warmer temperature speeds up the metabolism of the mantis and will shorten its life span…and in contrast, cooler temperature slows its metabolism and lengthens the life span, but both extremes could kill it. Keep humidity at 60-70%…smaller nymphs may need higher humidity.


    Their cage should be well ventilated with lots of twigs and leaves for the mantis to perch on. They are a tropical species and will do well with lots of foliage. These mantises don’t require much room as they are small, but they do need room to molt. The suggested height is usually 3x the mantis’ length and 2x for the width. This species is not as vicious as other species, but nevertheless, if you have only two, they will fight in small containers so it’s not advised to keep more than one in each container. I have had great success with keeping them in a colony, but I have observed cannibalism when food is absent for too long.


    This species prefers flying insects, but is no as picky as some other flower mantids. Start out with fruit flies for nymphs and move to pinhead crickets for larger nymphs and moths, mealworms, wax worms, and other flying insects for sub-adult and adults. Even though they are voracious and will attack anything, do not offer them poisonous insects or wasps or bees as these could seriously harm the mantis. To feed them, you must stimulate them to eat. This species is very voracious and will chase after its prey…no handfeeding required here. Feed them as much as it will eat in one day and do not feed it for another 2 days. Watch their abdomen, if it is inflated, then stop feeding them. As for watering, this type will get its fluid from its food, but it can sometimes be seen drinking off droplets from the side of the cage. Young nymphs and hatchlings need misting everyday to drink, otherwise the mortality rate will greatly increase.


    A mantis will stop eating a few days prior to its molt. Mantises molt about every 2 weeks as babies and the time in between each molt increases as they get older…so their last molt into adulthood can sometimes take as long as 3 weeks. It takes about 7 molts for females and about 6 for males. To pair up a pair of male and female, speed up the growth rate of the females while slowing down the males’ with cooler temperature and less feedings…once the female has molted, speed up the male’s growth to molt him out. During molting, it is vital that you do not disturb them and also make sure that the humidity is at a safe level…too much humidity can hinder the insect from drying out correctly and it might end up with bent legs and crippled arms. The mantis will hang upside down from a branch or the screen lid and will sometimes shake or spasm violently. Then after a while, it worms out of its old skin and will hang out to dry. Once it’s dried, it will resume eating and being its normal self.


    This species is easy to breed. After 2 weeks since their last molt, introduce the female into the male’s enclosure near him. This would attract his attention and he’ll try to make his move. He will start to flash his abdomen with its intense red color and will cautiously move towards her. Then he will make his move and jump onto her back. Make sure the female is well fed to prevent any possible cannibalism. It could take hours before he does anything though. Try feeding her at the same time…as she is busy with eating, she can’t grab him or throw him off of her. After a while of holding on (usually within minutes), the male will bend his abdomen down to connect with hers and mating will commence. Afterwards, he will run away and he must be removed or else he’ll be eaten.


    From a few days to a week, the females will be depositing her oothecae. This species can lay around 6-10 oothecae. After 4 weeks of incubation at 30 C (86 F) and 70-80% humidity with an everyday misting, some 30-60 nymphs will hatch out. The tiny nymphs can be fed on fruit flies a day or two after hatching. Then continue to care for them as this care sheet suggests.

    Additional Notes: I recieved 5 L4 and 1 L3 nymphs and they’re barely bigger than a Phyllocrania hatchling. These nymphs started chowing down on loads of fruit flies as soon as they settled into their new home. They exhibit remarkable semaphoric displays with their arms and vibrate their antennas intensively.
    The L3 nymph has molted to L4 and molted again to L5 10 days later. The other L4 nymphs have molted to L5 at the same interval. These voracious nymphs are very acrobatic and daring. They will tackle any prey, even ones as big as themselves. They will leap from one side of the cup to the other to snatch their prey. Even when they fall to the bottom, they still hold on tightly. It’s quite amusing to feed them. I’ve started giving them small moths and small crickets. These nymphs should grow quite quickly with lots of food.
    These nymphs molt on an average of every 10 days. The subadult males are still very tiny at about 1.5 cm…the subadult females are about 2 cm long
    The adult females are barely 1 inch long and the males are slightly smaller. Of the 3 females that I bred, one laid her first oothecae immediately after the male dismounted. The others took 5-6 days to make their first one. The oothecae are about 2 cm long and vanilla in color. They look like they contain at least 50 eggs in each case.
    The first eggcase hatched out after only 4 weeks of incubation. There were about 56 nymphs, not including any that may have died during hatching. The newly hatched nymphs are very small…about 3-4 mm from the head to the the tip of the abdomen.
    They eat small fruit flies readily…tackling them as they crawl by. The fruit flies are almost half as big, it’s amazing how brave these little guys are. So far, there is no sign of cannibalism.
    After 12 days, the first nymph started molting. The rest soon followed.
    It’s been a while and these guys are about L5 now. They are still living in the same container and seem communal. Only one incident of cannibalism was observed, the rest seem to be content with each other as long as there’s an ample food supply.